Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Technical Difficulties

There was a time, back in the day, when I was MOUS (Microsoft Office User Specialist) certified. Not only was I certified but I also supported reluctant users who ran into trouble with it...over the phone.

Of course, this was through the release of Office XP - so that should give you your first clue at how long ago we're talking. I left the hotline in 2005.

With the release of Office 2007, Microsoft, because they are dicks, made massive changes to the software - adding even more buggy bells and whistles they barely bothered to test. And then came Office 2010 - the current version I use at my own humble office.

So, when I was asked to create some labels for a mailing, I felt confident in my abilities but also cautious about what Microsoft might have done to the mail merge process.

Just so we're clear, the mail merge function in Word has never been particularly intuitive. In fact, it was one of the only tasks in Word that I fumbled with every single time I had to walk someone through it. But I was feeling, I guess, a bit too optimistic today when I set out to create those labels thinking that, perhaps, Microsoft might have, for once, done something right.



I swore. I fiddled. I faddled. I tore up big swaths of paper and tore out my hair. I wasted 5 perfectly good sheets of laser jet labels. I tried to look up "labels" and "mail merge" and "mailings" in Help. All 3 returned search results dedicated to charts. What? Finally, I broke down, hid my face in my hands, and cried.

Apparently, that was the magic key to making Word mail merge work...the crying. Sadistic bastards. Because that's when it dawned on me what was wrong.

I subsequently printed the labels, got the packets in the mail, and then went off to hunt down the largest diet Pepsi I could find in which to drown my sorrows.

Stupid Microsoft.
Stupid user.
Lovely diet Pepsi though.

PS On another technical difficulty note...after recording with Dr. Finger for more than an hour on Sunday afternoon, we took a short pee break and came back to the table to find the recording software - the one recording the audio - was hung up and then crashed.

We. Lost. All. The. Audio.

All of it.


We've re-scheduled recording for this coming Sunday but sad Jane is sad. The next episode won't be ready then for at least another week or so.

*insert curse words, shaking fists, and frowny faces here*


cdnkaro said...

Sometimes there just isn't enough diet Pepsi in the world. :(

p.s. I make Ian do all microsoft fiddling for me because it makes me want to tear my hair out in big clumps.

Lucy said...

I'm a diet Pepsi girl too!!

Oh, I deal with technical difficulties all the time and my husband loves to tell me it is a user problem, I finally said, " Listen that stupid statement doesn't make me feel better and the idiots need to make it easier for the user, I am the customer." He shakes his head and says, "Get a grip"
I know, I am sure you wonder how we have been married almost 25 years, the secret? I'm awesome, he would be lost without me!!!

Celeste Neumann said...

Tush! tush! fear boys with bugs. The Taming of the Shrew Quote Act i. Scene 2.
How admirable you simply had a good cry over it. How many (what was that quaint Americanism again? Oh yes!)... how many labels did you fuck up? At least you have a better case of nerves. I'm more like Kate Minola. I'd thrown the bloody thing out the window.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh Noooo ...
I subscribe to the stab and swear method of controling my computer. Only once did I calm down long enough to call the hot line and was amazed that anyone could walk me through the mess.
I will spend hours learning instead of seconds asking. Hope the new recording goes well.

Kelly Robinson said...

The tricky thing is to never faddle where you should have fiddled. Sorry about the lost recordings.

Gaelyn said...

Hey, you suddenly thing there can be no glitches on only the second try?

I'm going to try crying the next time Microsoft doesn't go my way.

Masked Mom said...

I haven't had to mess with mail merges in a while, but I remember that when I finally got it to work on the flower shop computer (and I have no idea which version of office or word it was anymore, but older than XP for sure), I felt like I had scaled a summit without a sherpa. So proud of myself. You couldn't PAY me to try to do a mail merge on the newest version. I hate all the bells and whistles. Makes me miss typewriters even more. :)

Sorry to hear about the audio. Technology is such a fickle mistress, isn't she?

Unknown said...

Jane, I think of you as a technology queen. If you couldn't get mail merge to do your bidding, there truly is a rat in the program.
It's been years since I worked in mail merge, but it always brought me to tears. How is it possible to make it so difficult? Don't even get me started on the goofy shit in the latest version of Word that has screwed over college students trying to write their research papers. Aren't students a major customer base for Word? I tell students they need to call Bill Gates to complain, and I ain't kidding! Grrr. This may call for a full-test Coke, with high fructose.
Thanks for reminding me that I'd been saving your podcast for after I got through the latest batch of papers. Yay-- I have something to look forward to!

Margi said...

I also held MOUS master certification in Office 2000 and 97, for all 5 programs. Sigh. I used to love teaching mail merge but I haven't tried since version 2003. Hm.